When we pulled up to the dated strip mall to start our adventure of Antelope Canyon, I must admit I was a little turned off. The small office was packed. Tourists of all shapes and sizes milled around the Navajo souvenirs and trinkets, all waiting for the bus. A tour group is not always my first choice in exploring a natural wonder, but it actually is the only way to see this spectacular slot canyon.
Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographed slot canyons in the world. It is on Navajo land, thus solo visits are prohibited. One can only tour the canyon with a group lead by a native Navajo guide. There are also few choices when it comes to tour groups, since there are a restricted number of visitors per day, so getting to the office early was a good plan.
We trundled on to the open air jeep and headed a couple miles out of Page, Arizona to get to the site’s entrance. From there, our jeep proceeded to bump and rumble off road down the dried up river bed (formed by flash floods) towards the canyon. My concerns of a large tour group began to vanish once at the mouth of the slot canyon. Our young guide lead us in and instantly we all looked up, never seeing another person until we exited. We stared in amazement at the scale of the canyon walls, soaring above us. The colors were a harmony of oranges fading to dark with sun dappling through the cracks creating spotlights on the rocks.
For the next 45 minutes we ambled down the canyon. It was like walking through an abstract painting. At various spots, you could see the profiles of famous people in the edges of the canyon, or traditional mountain landscape vistas formed by the shadows and light beams. It was mesmerizing.
Once we exited, I came back to reality. Three more jeeps had unloaded with tourists ready to explore. We got back on our bus and returned to the strip mall. Such a contrast from the artistic experience in the canyon.